A Simple Plan
Kemo the Blaxian shifts rhymes from English to Spanish and back
Published on LatinoLA: November 9, 2004
The hard-hitting beat is what grabs you first. Then you hear the smooth-yet- powerful baritone vocals attack with a distinctive tone. You recognize the voice as it commands attention with provocative lyrics over the flavorful track. The MC shifts the rhyme from English to Spanish and then back to English again, with such a seamless transition that you barely even notice the language switch. Your head was bobbing the whole way through - it didn't even matter that some of you couldn't understand the Spanish parts. Then it hits you, you're sure of it. The voice and trademark rhyme flow belong to none other than "The Blaxican" - Kemo, former member of Latin hip-hop pioneers Delinquent Habits.
As Delinquent Habits? only Spanish-fluent MC, Kemo spent twelve years with the group, releasing four albums and taking the Delinquent sound beyond borders and around the world. In 1996 the group struck gold with their very first single "Tres Delinquentes", a song that masterfully fused a traditional mariachi sound (courtesy of Herb Alpert's "Lonely Bull") with the raw hip-hop backdrop of the streets. The sound was a breath of fresh air in a stale rap scene, and opened a new creative doorway into which many other hip hop groups would follow.
"Tres Delinquentes" blew up almost overnight, receiving airplay not only on hip-hop radio but rock and Top 40 stations as well. The track even landed Delinquent Habits an appearance on NBC's ?Late Night with Conan O'Brien? and tours with heavyweights like Korn and Ice T. In no time, "Tres Delinquentes" became a worldwide hit, selling over 1 million copies around the globe and pushing the group?s self-titled album to nearly the same figure. It was then that the masses first caught wind of Kemo's lyrical skills and flawless bilingual transitions. He stepped into the hip-hop game, introduced himself as "The Blaxican," and never looked back.
Four Delinquent Habits albums later - after countless tours around the globe including the UK, Europe, Japan, South America, Mexico and Taiwan - Kemo has decided to leave the group and embark upon a solo career. The move will allow him to record the solo album that many DH fans have been asking of Kemo for several years. Risky but necessary, Kemo walks away having played a major role in solidifying Delinquent Habits as one of the most influential Latin hip-hop groups of all time and establishing himself as one of today?s top Latino MC's.
Kemo has always strived to keep himself on the move. In 2001, the multilingual LA rapper (of Mexican and African-American descent) recorded a song with Grammy-winning merengue queen Olga Tanon and Egyptian singer Hakim. The track fused hip-hop, merengue, and modern Middle Eastern sounds and was a mainstay on the charts from the Middle East to the Wild Wild West. In the summer of 2003, Kemo and longtime business partner Albert Hernandez launched Club Vibe, a no-dress code club that attracted MC's from throughout the Los Angeles area to snatch up the mic and rock the hip hop-fiending fans that came to bear witness.
The self-proclaimed Blaxican even loaned his voice to a recent Budweiser commercial in which he raps in Spanish to a heavy guitar-laced beat. Already in 2004, Kemo has teamed up with Sick Jacken of the Psycho Realm on a collaborative effort to appear on the Spanish hip-hop compilation "Imperial Latino" due out on Profeta Records in the coming months. The compilation will also feature a solo track of Kemo's called "No Que No." On top of it all, Kemo still finds time to nurture new artists, cultivate his record label Dead Silence Records, and sell his own streetwear line Joint Clothing to hip hop and streetwear stores worldwide.
June 29th marked the release of Simple Plan, Kemo's first album as a solo artist. This disc finds the Blaxican taking his talent for wordplay and ability to draw a vivid picture through rhyme and attitude to new heights. With songs that are in English, Spanish and bilingual as well, Kemo touches on several topics that have a lot more to do with real life than the superficial images saturating hip hop today.
"La Receta," a rapid-fire bilingual joint on which Kemo shines like never before, blends a Sonora-style horn riff with all the right lyrical ingredients for what should be a summertime anthem. The title track "Simple Plan" puts Kemo together with up and coming artist Jehuniko, rapper Most, and the vocal siren Monica Ortiz on a track filled with unique flows scripted to a theme of mischief and madness. The infectious 50's radio-sounding hook on "Simple Plan," which is sung by Monica, brings the song home, making it a crowd pleaser. "Ruido" is a bilingual onslaught over a funky Latin piano featuring another rising star, Sicko of the group Dos Rivales.
When asked about his musical goal, Kemo states, "I wanted to make a hard-hitting bilingual album for the local hip-hop community and for people worldwide. Latinos have been a cornerstone of hip-hop from day one, and I?m proud to be a part of that lineage." Having recently performed live on the bilingual TV networks LATV and SITV's "The Drop", as well as completing interviews on top-rated LA hip-hop radio station Power 106 and the Nationally Syndicated TV program "Urban Latino," Kemo is wasting no time making his presence felt with a simple plan toward success.
The future looks bright for an MC who's just premiered his solo venture, with global tour offers, TV programs asking for live performances, and radio stations asking for visits to grace their airwaves. The buzz is growing for an MC with the heart of a lion, who repeatedly keeps his ear to the street and his work ethic to the grindstone.